Moriches Elementary School fifth-grade students recently had the opportunity to visit the Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead to see a mock trial and jury selection up close, a trip organized through the office of Suffolk County Commissioner of Jurors Lawrence Voigtsberger.
Upon arrival at the court, the approximately 180 students, parents and teachers in attendance were escorted to the central jury room for a brief introduction of the jury selection process, an explanation of the types of trials throughout the county as well as what roles people have including judges, the commissioner, clerks, attorneys, court reporters, court officers, etc. The courtroom was fully staffed for the mock trial, along with two attorneys, John Breen for the plaintiff and Michael Clancy for the defendant, who presented a real case to the court and jury. Justice Paul J. Baisley Jr. presided.
At the mock trial, students were randomly selected as jurors; witnesses (students and one teacher) were called to the stand, sworn in and questioned by the attorneys. Closing arguments were presented and the student jury retired to the jury room to begin their deliberations. Meanwhile, the staff fielded questions from the remaining students. The student jury returned to the courtroom and Justice Baisley returned to the bench and a verdict was rendered.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to get a first-hand look at how our court system works,” said Eileen Filippone, Principal, Moriches Elementary School. “They had a great time and this experience has inspired many of our students to start thinking about future careers in law.”